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Breeding Customer Loyalty Through the Omnichannel Experience

Breeding Customer Loyalty Through the Omnichannel Experience

Breeding Customer Loyalty Through the Omnichannel Experience

As part of Solutions Review’s Contributed Content Seriesa collection of contributed articles written by our enterprise tech thought leader communitySara Faatz, the Director of Technology Community Relations at Progress, explains how companies can increase customer loyalty with omnichannel experiences.

On the consumer end, the average purchase—of a suitcase, a desk lamp, or an electric toothbrush—can feel relatively simple. But as any marketer knows, the path from noticing a product to actually buying it can, in fact, be enormously complex, facilitated on the backend by multiple teams working day in and day out on such complicated matters as UX design, behavioral analytics, and targeted ad copy. The better integrated these components are across platforms—i.e., the more seamless the experience is for the consumer—the higher the likelihood of a sale. 

This seamlessness is the defining characteristic of what has come to be called omnichannel marketing. Consumers today don’t differentiate between marketing channels: when your phone is always in your pocket, the distinctions between a marketing email, a point-of-sale app, and a targeted social ad are increasingly irrelevant. They all are, or should be, serving the same unified process. Omnichannel marketing takes this new reality into account: it is the ultimate strategy for a world in which, as the common wisdom goes, it takes seven marketing touches before a consumer will act on a call to action. 

Omnichannel vs. Multichannel Marketing 

Before precisely defining how omnichannel works, it’s worth exploring the approach that it’s slowly coming to replace—namely, multichannel marketing. 

In general, multichannel marketing is defined by a siloed approach: A given brand might have an online store, an app, and a robust social targeting operation, but these channels will operate in relative isolation. Because there is little to no synchronization happening on the backend, messages can get muddled. In the worst cases—when channels are truly uncoordinated—customers can end up with clashing impressions of what your brand is all about.  

Omnichannel breaks those siloes down—it takes what were once distinct (if overlapping) marketing streams and turns them into a single, cross-referenced, highly interdependent operation precision-engineered to funnel customers towards a purchase. 

Its key benefit is personalization, which most customers have come to expect as a baseline: according to the 2022 Gartner Customer Service and Support Survey, 86 percent of B2B customers expect their personal information to be known and understood by businesses during an interaction. Omnichannel delivers this personalization by taking once-disparate data streams and seamlessly synching them. If a customer seems to express interest in a product through one channel—say, a marketing email or an Instagram ad—this information will be factored into all their future brand interactions, no matter what channel they’re using. 

What this generates, above all, is loyalty and thus engagement: the consumer feels seen and comes to trust the brand to understand their preferences and show them products that are actually relevant to their interests. There is a reason that, according to Omnisend, marketers using three or more channels in a given campaign saw a 494 percent higher order rate than those using a single-channel campaign—omnichannel builds a relationship, whereas single-channel (or even some multichannel) often treats the consumer as just another anonymous, undifferentiated potential customer. 

Better yet, all the countless interactions logged and synched throughout the customer journey via omnichannel generate invaluable information about the customer journey and grant marketers fine-grained insight into which strategies are most likely to lead to a purchase. Data like this creates a virtuous cycle: more purchases lead to more data, which leads to more capability to generate even more purchases.

Getting an Omnichannel Strategy Off the Ground 

If your brand is currently running a single or multichannel strategy, don’t despair. Setting up an omnichannel strategy is far simpler than some might suspect. It does, though, involve keeping certain first principles top of mind. These include: 

1) Taking inventory

Undoubtedly, your brand is already operating a range of channels, from a website to a mobile app to social engagement tools. Before properly synchronizing these channels, you need to do a comprehensive deep dive into how each one works independently. In some cases, that might even mean dispensing with channels that aren’t paying dividends for your brand so you can concentrate resources on the ones that might generate a better ROI. 

2) Staying consistent

Again, one of the biggest perils of multichannel is its tendency to send mixed or conflicting messages to consumers. When starting with an omnichannel strategy, you want to ensure the experience is consistent across the board. That means taking teams that might’ve once operated independently and getting them to work together to implement a unified customer experience. It also means ensuring that those teams are all operating off the same brand guidelines, as you want that experience to have the same look and feel across channels. 

3) Centering data

Data is the beating heart of any functional omnichannel enterprise. Omnichannel can only function when that data is synchronized across teams, which is why it’s so important to take stock of where precisely all that data is stored within your organization and work with your technical teams to bring it all together into one location. This will give you a holistic view of customer behavior that lets you personalize interactions and anticipate needs, wants, and behaviors. 

4) Keeping things seamless

To the customer, it should seem like each encounter with your brand is building off the last. If they start an interaction on your mobile app, for instance, they should be able to seamlessly pick up where they left off if and when they visit your online store via laptop. Work with your development team to ensure this connected experience is possible. 

As every other aspect of a consumer’s life becomes synchronized across platforms—from their calendars to their exercise routines—it only makes sense that marketing would follow suit. Customers can be finicky, but they reward the brands they trust, coming back to them again and again—and no strategy is more effective at breeding that kind of loyalty than omnichannel.

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